Sunday, September 05, 2004

In Defense of Rav Yuval Sherlo

This week's issue of Makor Rishon has an article about the controversy surrounding Rabbi Yuval Sherlo, Rosh Yeshiva of Yeshivat ha-Hesder Petah Tiqva (where my son learns-when he's not in the army). Rabbi Sherlo, who I know personally and for whom I have alot of respect, is a true Ben Torah who has devoted enormous energies to addressing the crises and challenges facing Orthodoxy in Israel. Owing to the fact that he works tirelessly to bridge the gap between Religious, Traditional and Secular Jews, that he fights for מסורבות גט and is not afraid to criticize the rabbinate, that he is willing to come to engage the types of personal problems that young religious kids encounter- he has come under intense fire from distinguished Rabbis and Rashe Yeshiva who are, let us say, less than enthused about modernity. (He's also been viciously attacked by certain Haredi journalists. Buy, in any case, you can't take that kind of criticism seriously.)

Part of the criticism levelled at Rav Yuval is based on the fundamental rejection of absolutely anything to do with modernity by a significant sector of the National-Religious Camp. This rejection is, ironically enough, based at Yeshivat Merkaz HaRav, and even more so in its break away movement 'Har HaMor' (known as the ישיבות הקו). In any event, it was to be expected. This, large sector of the Religious community is politically Zionist but unbendingly anti-modern, pro-Da'at Torah etc. It's not for nothing that they are now termed Hardalim i.e. Haredim Le'umi'im.

Another part of the criticism derives from total, abject ignorance and the fact that (to this day) no real, Modern Orthodoxy that knows its limits and its possibilities, and the really moves in a modality of Yirat Shamayim has developed here. The result is that anything that a Zohar rabbi does (for example) that is a little bit different, is immediately branded 'Conservative' or 'Reform.' Those who use those diatribes have no idea what Conservative or Reform are. In fact, my experience has been that there is nothing in the 'innovations' of Zohar rabbis that RIETS musmachim haven't been doing for decades. [But then, maybe RIETS Musmachim aren't Orthodox according to these guys.]

The bottom line is that we need to encourage rabbis like Rav Yuval Sherlo to stand up to the ballistras that are coming their way. They should be invited to speak. Their yeshivot should be supported. There is too large a population that is leaving the path of Torah because noone wants to engage their issues (or is willing to teach intelligent Torah Humility- as the Rov zt"l might say). It's literally a matter of Piqu'ah Nefesh.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

"Another part of the criticism derives from total, abject ignorance and the fact that (to this day) no real, Modern Orthodoxy that knows its limits and its possibilities, and the really moves in a modality of Yirat Shamayim has developed here."

Doesn't Tamar Ross discuss this issue towards the end of her new book?

Jeffrey said...

I haven't read Tamar Ross' book yet. However, I am certain that Rav Sherlo would no subscribe to her theory of ongoing revelation.